bookmark_borderHome Remodeling Big Ideas For Underutilized Spaces

Doorless Showers Open a World of Possibilities

I’ll never forget my first experience with an open shower. On a French-class trip at the innocent age of 14, I arrived at my hotel tired, jet-lagged and longing for a good, hot soak. I pushed open the bathroom door and looked around, flummoxed. Where on earth was the bathtub? Then I glanced up and gaped: I was standing in the shower, which was just a handheld faucet and a grate in the floor — no tub, no door, no curtain, no threshold. The entire time I was there, I never mastered the art of soaping up and rinsing off without drenching the whole room.

It turns out, the French were onto something. Doorless showers have become a design darling in recent years. Not only do they create an open, expansive feel in a bathroom, but they also lend themselves well to universal design and aging in place. And while they’re a little more sophisticated now than my Parisian puzzler, they still require careful planning.

Add a Half-Wall to Protect Against Splashes

Ideally, an open shower requires at least a 6-foot buffer zone on every side to avoid flooding the rest of the bath with water. But a half-wall, such as the one that divides this shower from the vanity, can help to contain droplets.

Consider a Corner Location if Possible

Orient the shower in a corner that faces away from the other bathroom zones. Not only does this guard against spraying water, but it also preserves some measure of privacy (more on that in a minute).

Prepare to Combat Chills

There’s no getting around it — open showers can be drafty, especially in the winter months. Installing a heat lamp and radiant heat bathroom flooring can offset the shivers. Mount a heated towel rack nearby and you’ll be extra toasty as you dry off.

Designer Secrets to Work Into Your Kitchen

Before we get started, here’s a bonus piece of advice: I highly recommend you invest your dollars in the best cabinetry you can afford, and worry about the appliances later. In other words, don’t sacrifice the quality of your cabinets for new appliances if budget is an issue. Instead, delay purchasing your dream appliances. Why? Long after you’ve replaced your refrigerator and dishwasher, your cabinets will be standing, and they are the foundation for a beautiful kitchen. Now on to more details that make a difference.

Refrigerator Side Panel

Most kitchen remodels incorporate the refrigerator into the design by adding side panels that match the cabinetry for a built-in look. Standard countertops overhang base cabinet doors by half an inch. Be sure the depth of the refrigerator panel is slightly greater than the depth of the counter. Otherwise, the counter will jut past the panel instead of converging with it.

Tall Cabinets

In addition to increasing the depth of the refrigerator panel, also increase the depth of your tall cabinets as shown here. Consistency is the key to good design, therefore all counters should have the same reveal, or edge configuration.

Flush Countertop

Not all countertops overhang the doors by a half-inch. Some clients prefer their counters flush with the doors and drawers for a modern, streamlined appearance.

Pantry Pullouts

Pullout cabinets should be only 9, 12 or 15 inches wide, in my opinion. Why? By virtue of the pullout’s design, every time you need a can of soup, you experience the full weight of everything that’s stored there. A wider pantry pullout is simply too heavy.

Tips for Designing a Home That Sparks Creativity

They say the best ideas come to us in the shower. And architect and author says homeowners and design pros who really want to make the most of those bathing brainstorms should keep lighting in the bathroom minimal and install a waterproof notepad on the shower wall for capturing any inspiration that bubbles up mid-shampoo.

We recently spoke with the Connecticut-based Rattner about why the home has so much idea-generating potential — for professionals and hobbyists alike — and what he’s learned about how homeowners and design pros can tap into it.

Why Design for Creativity at Home?

Although there have been plenty of mainstream articles about the research done on design that boosts creative thinking and productivity in commercial office spaces, Rattner noticed that the studies on home features that do the same were mostly hidden away in academic journals. But the home, he found, is often more conducive to creativity, so incorporating choices that can spark innovation there can be an even smarter investment, particularly since more people are working from home.

Embrace Features That Keep You Unfocused

There’s truth to that shower adage, says, because the shower is a place where people allow their minds to wander⁠ —and keeping the shower dimly lit only amplifies that lack of structured focus.

It’s a place where we do a lot of mindless stuff, whether it’s taking a shower or dumping the garbage or doing the dishes or walking the dog,” says. “But it’s those kind of moments, where you’re not trying to solve a creative problem or do something creative, that we tend to get our best ideas.”

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a General Contractor?

A good general contractor can bring a lot of value to a home renovation or building project. These professionals help their clients set a realistic budget, keep a project on schedule and manage construction so the homeowners don’t have to. How much does it cost to hire a general contractor?

General contractor fees vary depending on the scope of the work to be done and the way the contractor structures his or her fees, as well as on the going rate for services in the region. To get a good range

What Do General Contractors Do?

Provide realistic cost estimates. One of the most important services a contractor can provide is nailing down a realistic cost to build or remodel a home — before construction starts. There are two ways to get this all-important cost estimate from a contractor.

Traditionally, clients either purchased house plans or worked with an architect to develop them. Then the homeowner sent the plans to multiple contractors for competitive bidding. The contractors bid — estimated the cost of building — the project without charging the client for their time. Many contractors still work this way today.

However, plenty of excellent general contractors don’t participate in competitive bidding or offer free estimates. “Over the years we have discovered it’s really not worth our time to throw bids out there all the time,” says, owner of Construction.

Alternatives to Plain Wood Flooring in the Kitchen

Wood flooring laid in a straight pattern can be a beautiful option for a kitchen and continues to be popular in photos we see uploaded. But what if you want a kitchen floor that’s a bit more distinctive?

Herringbone Medley

This kitchen by Studio marries black porcelain tile with solid oak pieces in a herringbone pattern, interspersing the two materials along the transition. It’s a nice effect that softens the divide between flooring while providing an artistic surprise. The white lines on the floor are veins within the black tiles, which are designed to echo the look of Nero Marquina marble.

Graphic Green to Organic Wood

The flooring in this kitchen by Architecture shows a similarly blended border, with cuts of wood edging into the green tile floor at the transition to the dining area. The green tiles with white lines look a bit like palm leaves and complement the natural look of the wood floors.

Inlaid Brick

This rustic yet sophisticated kitchen floor in a townhouse in, remodeled by Think Construction consists of bricks laid in a herringbone pattern. The material has an indoor-outdoor feel that works well as a transition from the walk-out patio beyond the kitchen.

Midcentury Mod

In this reboot of a midcentury kitchen, remodelers placed square white cement tiles with gray edging in a strategic grid. The result is a formation of gray rectangles placed evenly and at perpendicular angles.

bookmark_borderPros And Cons Of Taking Home Renovation


Never in a million years did I think I’d be writing the words “home renovation.” I still can’t believe we own a house, let alone one that we renovated

started casually looking for houses around a year ago. We rented our first apartment together last July and I definitely was itching to have something of our own. We had chosen a less expensive and desirable apartment in order to save for a bigger move. I knew what I wanted more than anything a kitchen that made me excited to cook. I wanted to absolutely LOVE where we lived.

I had no intention of doing work on whatever house we found. No one in our families has experience with renovations. It’s actually kind of funny how not handy we are. Luckily I had some contractor connections from Alchemy and friends who’ve renovated before.

We basically got our house off the market, meaning we got a good deal in a market that’s been pretty insane. We were really lucky to have a friend that lived next door to the house we ended up buying who knew we were looking. The universe was working its magic!

We looked at a lot of homes that were redone, in more prime locations, and considerably more expensive. Looking back, I’m really glad we didn’t go with a more updated house. This home feels so us. We’ve really put our hearts and souls into it. And by no means has it been easy! Renovating a home is frustrating, expensive, complicated, and insanely unpredictable.

Destination Home Renovation: Important Things to Keep in Mind While Project Planning

Are you one of more than half – 53% – of American homeowners who agree that now is a good time to renovate a home? Over 60% of homeowners are prepared to spend more on home remodeling projects this year, in 2015, than those who made home improvements in 2014. In fact, the entire home design and renovation industry have experienced significant growth in recent years as more and more homeowners are choosing to improve rather than move.

Now that spring has arrived, it’s the perfect time to begin fleshing out your spring or summer home renovation and design projects. There’s no need to tear down and remodel your entire home if you’re looking to add value to your property. In fact, whole home renovation isn’t necessary in order to receive a worthwhile return on investment (ROI). Even minor kitchen remodeling projects can have an ROI of up to 73%.

Therefore, while planning your home remodeling project, it’s important to keep your end goal in mind. Are you renovating in order to sell, or do you plan on staying put? This may help you determine the exact nature of your home remodel. For example, if you’re renovating in order to sell, it’s best to stick to neutral color schemes and include amenities and features that are highly sought after, such as wooden decks.

While properly budgeting for and planning your home remodeling process is important, it’s equally if not more important to determine exactly what kind of home improvement professional is right for the job. For example, unique home renovations may require the expertise and skill of the best architects in your area, whereas a general contractor could be able to complete a simple kitchen renovation with ease.

There are a number of online forums and websites for architects in your area that may be helpful in determining who may be best for your specific project. When reviewing websites for architects and contractors in your area, pay close attention to the services offered as well as any client testimonials. This information can help you to better understand how the architect or contractor operates prior to meeting for a consultation.

Ways to Save Money on a Home Renovation

Are you in the process of renovating your home? Often, major upgrades can get quite expensive if you aren’t paying attention, so if you’re on a tight budget, consider focusing on saving money while renovating.

For example, if you plan to upgrade your kitchen, it may be better to purchase low-cost materials and cabinets. You can find quality affordable kitchen cabinets online for a fraction of what you’d pay in most traditional retail stores.

powerful ways to save money during a home renovation:

1. Set a Budget and Stick to It

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when renovating their property is failing to set a budget. By not having one in place before you begin work, you’ll often end up spending more than you originally intended. Be sure to take time to figure out how much you can afford and create a budget for your renovation project.

2. Make Every Effort to Save on Material Costs

Another area where homeowners get in trouble is that they spend way too much on material costs. For example, you can buy recycled or reused building materials, which will help cut down on your costs. Even better, some of these reused materials are in excellent condition, so you’ll get a good bargain on more high-end items.

You can also check Craigslist, eBay or Freecycle to find free or cheap materials online. Many people are often literally giving this stuff away on these sites, so take advantage while you can.

3. Find Good Deals on Essential Pieces

No one said you had to pay top dollar for the most essential pieces for your home renovation. Instead of spending a small fortune for new granite countertops, you can wait a little while for the materials to go on sale. The same holds true with kitchen island installations, brand-new windows and just about anything else that needs replacing during the home renovation process.

4. Pay Cash for Materials and Contractor Expenses

This tried-and-true idea works wonders when attempting to cut down on renovation expenses. You’ll be able to save a significant amount by offering to pay cash for your materials and contractor fees for a couple of reasons. First, by paying cash instead of using credit, you can avoid the possibility of paying hefty interest charges. Second, sometimes contractors will give their customers a price break when you offer to pay cash for their services.

5. Don’t Rush the Renovation Process

Sometimes people are eager to finish their home renovations. This can turn out to be a major mistake if you aren’t patient. Instead of using your credit to pay for your expenses, wait and save up. Additionally, you might end up spending top dollar for materials or contractor fees when you could’ve paid much less if you were willing to wait a little while longer.

6. Perform DIY Renovations When You Possess the Skills to Get the Job Done

Some repairs and renovations are going to be out of your league. However, many folks will have no problem handling some DIY projects on their own. Instead of paying somebody to complete easy to moderate repairs or demolition, you can take the bull by the horns and perform these activities yourself.

7. Reuse Materials Whenever Possible

Instead of letting certain materials go to waste, feel free to reuse them whenever you can get away with it. This is a great way to save money without going over your budget or breaking the bank. For example, you may be able to reuse some of your cabinetry and appliances without replacing them.

8. Avoid Making Big Purchases Until the Items Go on Sale

If you’re renovating your kitchen and putting in brand-new appliances, you should always wait for them to go on sale. Of course, this only works if you aren’t under any time constraints, but instead of buying an appliance on a typical Wednesday, you could wait until a big Fourth of July sale is happening. You’ll save a lot of money this way, so take advantage of these excellent opportunities.

9. Shop Around When Hiring Help for Home Renovations

You obviously want your home renovations to look amazing; however, that doesn’t mean you have to pay top dollar for the most expensive contractors in your area. You can shop around and get multiple bids from as many contractors as you see fit. This will help you find a top-notch and inexpensive contractor that meets your needs.

10. Sell Any Working Appliances That You Intend to Replace

Do you own a refrigerator that’s in good working order? How about a well-used stove that’s still in good condition? Instead of throwing these valuable items away when you replace them, you could list them on Craigslist, eBay or the Facebook Marketplace. You never know what someone may want to purchase. Selling your old, but working, appliances could help you recoup some of your renovation expenses and lower your costs at the same time.

tell-tale signs that your house needs renovation

There is one thing that separates a responsible homeowner from someone who is not —  the love for the house. As you spend years living in your home, you will develop deep connections with it, so much that how you take care of your house reflects what you see in yourself.

When your roof starts to crumble

One of the hardest parts of the house to check is the roofing. You cannot just go outside, walk a few steps away from your house, and check on your roof for possible damage — you’ll have to actually climb and check the roof yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. Since the roof of your house is your first layer of protection from the elements, it is imperative for you to take swift action once it leaks.

When your flooring become dilapidated

If there’s one part of the house that constantly endures stress, it’s the flooring. Floor tiles are good indicators of your house’s condition, and when they start to come off, you should definitely consider renovating.

Renovating your floors gives you an opportunity to change the vibe of your interior to better match it with your home decor. When changing your floors, you should take note of several things:

Lower-level floors are more exposed to moisture. When choosing the material to replace your flooring in these areas, consider tile or vinyl, as they are water-resistant.

Rooms that are occupied the most should have flooring that can withstand constant wear and tear.

Avoid wood and carpet flooring if you live in areas with extreme temperatures.

Consider the occupants of the room when deciding for the material. Ceramic tiles, laminate flooring, and carpet will work well with children’s rooms. If you have senior citizens living in your home, it’s a good idea to get flooring with extra traction.

When the wall paint looks worn-out

Just like how clothes sometimes make you look younger, so does a fresh coat of paint to a wall. It is best to invest in a good quality of paint and give your walls a fresh look.

Home Renovation – Some Things to Consider Before You Start

If you’re preparing to embark on a home renovation adventure, then you’re going to need all the help and advice you can get. Major renovation projects, especially kitchen or bathroom renovations

Do your research

Before you get started on any renovation project it’s essential to do your research, especially if you’re not an experienced renovator. Research will help you to gather inspiration and ideas, get an idea of the work involved,separate the fantasy from the reality, give you a sense of the material and labour costs and help you to plan out your project. Some quality research will also help you to avoid common renovation mistakes.

Plan ahead

This may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t fully plan out a renovation project. Without proper planning you’ll struggle to manage your budget and chances are you’ll end up making mistakes that will cost you a lot of time and money.

Consult the experts

Whether you’re planning on taking on some of the renovations yourself or you’re leaving it all to the professionals, you’d be foolish not to consult with as many experts as possible. When carrying out major renovations, a small mistake or oversight can end up costing you a lot of time and money.

Consider an eco-friendly renovation

Renovating is the perfect time to think about adding some eco-friendly features to your home, especially if you’re renovating an old property. There are plenty of ways to improve the eco credentials of your renovation. When it comes to bathroom renovations

bookmark_borderNew Home Builder

How To Choose The Right Builder

Choosing the right builder for your dream home is an extremely critical step. The builder you opt for is going to be responsible for your home and all that it has to offer. The number of builders in the market are one too many, but who is the most reliable of them all? One must be cautious and one must do a thorough market study to find the best builder who will provide the best quality in terms of quality of material used, architecture and service. Your life’s savings are going into your real estate purchase, so one must compare, analyse and choose a builder who is the best amongst his competitors and is offering what suits your needs

Experience of the builder:

The experience of the builder in the Industry says a lot about his efficiency. If a certain builder has been in the market and has consistently performed throughout the period of his presence, one can be assured that he is offering both quality and service. Not just that, an experienced builder will come with sufficient knowledge about the industry, the material and the evolving architecture. You can be assured that someone with ample experience will build good quality homes.

Success rate:

The number of homes built by the builder, it be villas or flats is also an important factor to consider while choosing the right builder for your home. The number of homes built and occupied is a direct reflection of the scale of operation, reliability, quality and workmanship of the builder.

The one who meets your needs:

Each of us are looking for something different in our dream home. Different builders might offer different styles, scales and lifestyles in their projects. Or, one builder might have a lot of variety in what they offer- Make sure that you opt for something that meets your needs and the builder that you opt for is offering a home that is in your budget and offering you the amenities and lifestyle that you desire.

Number of ongoing projects:

This factor is again a direct representation of the efficiency of the builder. Multiple ongoing projects show that the builder is reliable and has sufficient funding and experience in the field, making them a good option to opt for.


A builder isn’t just a contractor you call up at the last minute. Builders are an important partner – after all, buying land and building a house is a huge undertaking that should set you up for long-term comfort and happiness. With such a vital role in the project, your builder must be in complete sync with you to get the best outcome.


It’s easy to get excited about house designs and skip straight to this step, but hold on a moment and ensure you have your ideal lot first.


Not all builders are made equal. Many have a specialty, such as aesthetic style, building materials, and so forth. Some building companies also offer optional extras like finance, or deals for first-time buyers.

How to find good builders: First, visit your local developer display villages to find their preferred builders. Nothing beats seeing and feeling a home in person! If you want to do more research, jump on Google and search local companies to examine their offerings. Your friends and family members may also have recommendations.


The next step is to ask your builders good questions, to start shortlisting some companies.

Tips for Choosing Your New Home Builder

Choosing the right builder for your new home is a big task. They’re going to be in charge of a major construction project for you – and that’s a big undertaking. The builder you select needs to have all the tools necessary to build you a home that will last.

They Hire the Right Team

When you build a house, you’re bringing together all these different pieces and fitting them together like a puzzle.

They Talk, and They Listen

The most important thing you can do in any project, whether it’s a full build, or a small renovation is to communicate with your team.

They Chase Outside Certification

Each builder has their own set of standards when it comes to construction – but the truly great ones will qualify for third party certifications that let you know that their homes are built right.

They Don’t Hand You the Keys and Run

Once you’ve got your keys, you don’t want your builder to disappear into the night. This goes back to strong communication between you and your builder. Good builders will follow up with you once you’ve got the keys, and make sure you’re satisfied with your new build.

How to choose the right builder for your home

Building your own home is a big investment, probably the biggest one in your life. Part of the home building process is choosing the right partner to build your beautiful home. But where do you start? How do you find a quality builder to build your new home?

Define what you want

Outline what you need in terms of size and type of home, for example family home with a large kitchen and play areas for the kids.

Look for experience

How long has the business been around? Are past homebuyers satisfied? If you cannot find client testimonials on the website, don’t be afraid to ask for customer references. Ask previous customers questions like ‘Would you buy another home from the builder?’ or ‘Would you recommend them to family and friends?’ If the answers are negative, dig a bit deeper and ask why the experience was not great.

Is the builder licensed and insured?

Generally builders across Australia need to be licensed and carry mandatory insurances, but these can alter depending on your state, the cost of the works and the contract particulars, so do your homework here and make sure as the home owner you’re covered. Ask about the insurance that the builder and his or her trade contractors carry, and check this against the applicable Government Department, or an Industry Association such as the HIA( Housing Industry Association), or the MBA (Master Builders Association).

Look for a design fit

Builders usually have experience in a variety of design styles and architectural details however look for a builder whose work includes at least a couple of examples of the style of home you want.

Looking for a Homebuilder? Type of House Is Key to Your Search

What does spec, tract and custom mean?

When it comes to buying a home, you have three broad choices. First are “spec” homes built by a large, typically well-known companies. They can be any style and size and are often found in new communities.

What are the costs of building a home?

Costs for a spec or tract home build are usually upfront. If you choose a spec home, for example, the builder may be willing to add a few features or slightly modify the floor plan for a fee, but costs are almost entirely ironclad.

How to evaluate homebuilders

Choosing a homebuilder means first considering performance and then evaluating price. Licensing and certification are paramount. Although most home builders require some kind of certification from a state agency, not all states have the same requirements and many certifications are not transferrable.

Evaluating price can be more difficult since local material costs, contractor availability and unexpected delays can all conspire to increase the final bill. There are, however, several general rules.

First, the cost of a custom home will typically be at least double that of a similar-sized spec home. Second, real estate prices do not indicate home building cost. In an inflated market, the costs to build can be much more reasonable than they may appear.